Daily Egyptian

Scholarship opens pages for students

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

Some students may spend more than $1,000 for textbooks each semester, but about three dozen SIU students won’t have to pay anything this spring.

The SIU Alumni Association awarded more than $20,000 in textbooks and supplies to 38 students Tuesday during a ceremony at the Student Center. The association has given Textbook Scholarship Awards annually since 2008.

The scholarship began as a way to increase retention rates and recruit students, said Michelle Suarez, executive director of the association.

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“Some students have a gap in their funding,” Suarez said. “Sometimes the difference can be the ability to pay for textbooks.”

Association board member Hazel Loucks said while some students have a scholarship to cover tuition and fees, there are not many for textbooks. 

“Those ancillary costs like books are really expensive and they’ve gotten more and more expensive each year,” Loucks said. “This [scholarship] was to keep kids in school that may quit had they couldn’t afford the books they need.”

If Patrick Martin, a junior from DeKalb studying mechanical engineering, had to pay for textbooks this semester, he would have paid $1,500.

“It’s a lot of headache gone,” Martin said. “I don’t have to look around or go to different stores or price check. … They’re all here, and I get to keep them. It’s no hassle.”

For recipients, who represent every college on campus as well as professional schools such as the School of Law, the scholarship provides much-needed support.

Tiffany Walker, a third-year law student from St. Louis, plans to use the money she saved for the Bar exam, which can cost upward of $1,000 to take.

Raising a child with his wife, Dave Stoddard, a second-year law student from Orem, Utah, said the aid helps not only himself, but also his family.

In addition to textbooks, Suarez said the scholarships cover any supplies students need for class, whether that be scrubs, software programs or even tools for classes with a focus in mechanics. 

When the program began in 2008, $1 million was set aside and has been used to fund each year’s scholarship since.

To some recipients, the scholarship came as a surprise. Erick Camper, a sophomore from Chicago studying teacher education, expressed astonishment when he realized he won the award.

“The element of surprise — I just opened up my email one day and saw I won a scholarship — makes that whole cup of tea even sweeter,” Camper said.

To qualify for the award, students must demonstrate financial need and have a GPA of at least 3.0. From there, the association decides who the most deserving students are, its webpage states.

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3326.

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